I had received this book as a gift few months ago but never really got around to reading it until recently. Since I had not really heard of Scott Galloway at that time, I chalked the book down to a history of the four silicon valley behemoths. Over past few months, I came across Scott’s blog and became a big fan.
Scott Galloway is one of the gurus of tech industry and have been a great source of insights and great reading material into the ever changing world of Silicon Valley. The Four is Galloway’s first book and is what would be classified as a casual read that can be easily finished in less than a week. Not being a veracious reader by any stretch of imagination, it took me around five days to finish the book cover to cover.
The highlight of the book are the four chapters dedicated to the four companies, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google and will provide anyone a very good and fairly detailed summary of history and business strategies of the four giants of the twenty first century. Galloway proceeds to examine and deconstruct the strategies that the Four employ in becoming leaders of the industry, the exploitation of consumer habits and as well as their covert anti-competitive techniques to stifle competition. The key strengths boil down to Amazon’s low cost of capital, Apple’s position as a premium brand, Facebook’s relationship nurturing algorithms and Google’s role as the epic information center.
Reading The Four will give you an accurate understanding of business strategies of these companies, along with a few other tech and retail giants, competing to be considered in the same league as the four horsemen (a termed coined by Galloway to refer to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google). However, if someone wants a detailed understanding of history of these companies and their evolution, this book will not suffice. I would suggest reading The Everything Store to know how Amazon evolved into the world’s biggest store and Steve Job’s autobiography by Walter Isaacson for Apple. I still haven’t read anything worth recommending on Facebook and Google.
The later sections of the Group are dedicated to career advice to be successful in today’s day and age and in the years to come which these tech giants are shaping up for us. For me the key lessons from the book boil down to the fact that to be successful (i.e. earn a lot of money) you need to be remarkable. The big corporations of twenty first century employ very few but remarkable people and being remarkable has the monopoly on big pay days in a job. Scott goes on to present very interesting figures by comparing the market cap per employee for big corporations of twentieth century vs today. The following quote from Scott summarizes this thought perfectly:
There has never been a better time to be remarkable, nor a worse time to be unremarkable.Scott Galloway
If anyone is interested in reading more on how to be remarkable and that too in the age of digital and social media, I would highly recommend reading the following:
Both the books are by Seth Godin and truly lays out what future of work looks like and go into a lot more detail on what being remarkable actually means. I will write a detailed review later but in these books, Seth aims to inspire people to no longer follow the norm, but instead carve their own path for a more fulfilling, successful and rewarding career.
What is the rating?
There are a lot of well thought and supported out arguments in the book, which will keep you hooked. Many questions and issues that I think more people need to give more thought and consideration to as these companies are truly changing the new normal. Whether you agree or disagree with Scott’s view points or conclusions we should carefully consider the implications of the realities and facts that he presents about these companies and the impact they are having on our lives.